Challenging Yourself With More Advanced Yoga Poses

Woman doing scorpion handstand pose

How to Advance to More Complex Yoga Poses

Are you frustrated because you just can't get the hang of the more advanced yoga poses you've been attempting? After successfully mastering beginner and intermediate poses, it's not uncommon to struggle with complex poses. These tips will help you prepare mentally and physically to conquer challenging poses.

Don't Be Afraid to Use Props

Blocks, straps, bolsters, pillows, wedges, blankets, balls, wheels, and other props are indispensable tools that help you keep your body properly aligned and supported, deepen a pose, or soften your posture.

Using props isn't cheating. As amazing as our bodies are, no two are the same. Some people are naturally more flexible than others or have better balance or alignment. Thanks to props, you can successfully perform difficult poses even if you struggle with balance or aren't as limber as you would like.

Props are also helpful when you're first learning a pose. As you become more comfortable with the movements, you may discover that you no longer need a prop.

Embrace Positivity

Self-talk can affect your ability to conquer a challenging pose. If you convince yourself you can't master a difficult asana, you'll probably be more likely to struggle with it.

Banish those negative thoughts and concentrate on creating a positive, accepting atmosphere instead. Remind yourself of your past yoga triumphs. You've accomplished hard tasks before, both in your yoga practice and in your life, and you can do this too!

Mentally Prepare Yourself

It's much harder to focus on your asanas when you're feeling stressed or frazzled. Before you tackle the toe stand or crow pose, take a few minutes to relax and center yourself. A few minutes of deep breathing and meditation can help you shake off worries and stress. Once you're calm and grounded, it will be easier to concentrate completely on the pose.

Use Your Breathing

Taking advantage of the power of your breath as you move your body through every step of the pose. Inhale as you extend and lengthen your body or move upward. Exhale when you contract or lower your body, move downward, or move out of a pose. Timing your breathing to match the motion helps energy flow through your body and eases transitions.

Start Slowly

In the beginning, it may be easier to perform challenging poses if you only work on part of the pose at a time. Mastering each subtle movement before moving to the next can help you develop confidence and grow more in tune with your body. Yoga International recommends focusing on beginner and intermediate poses that will help you grow stronger in specific areas needed to succeed at the more difficult pose.

Watch and Learn

Watch the way the more advanced members of your class perform the pose and evaluate the precise movements they make. Your classmates will probably be glad to offer a few tips that will help make the pose less daunting. Yoga videos and apps can also be very helpful. After observing other people perform the pose, you may gain a little more insight that will help you overcome your difficulties.

Ask Your Yoga Instructor for Advice

Your yoga instructor has a wealth of knowledge about the mental and physical processes involved in yoga. They can provide tips and recommendations on posture, alignment, balance, timing, and breathing that may help you conquer the pose. A private lesson or two may be a good idea if you're really struggling with a difficult pose.

Are you having a few problems mastering difficult yoga poses? Our instructors can help you succeed. Contact us for information on classes and lessons.

Sources:

Yoga International: How to Approach Advanced Yoga Poses

Self: New to Yoga? 12 Things to Know Before Taking Your First Class, 1/4/19

Yoga Journal: 7 Best Yoga Props, According to 7 Top Teachers, 6/29/18